ATLANTA — A Fulton County judge on Tuesday granted a $500,000 bond to fired Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, who is charged with felony murder for the June 12 killing of Rayshard Brooks.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick made her decision after finding Rolfe was not a risk of flight and posed no significant risk of committing a crime or intimidating witnesses while out of custody.
Barwick’s decision followed emotional testimony by Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, who asked the judge to deny bond.
“My husband did not deserve to die,” Miller said. “I lost my best friend. … He was a loving, caring, wonderful father and the best husband I could ask for. He had the brightest smile and the biggest heart.”
Miller became so overcome with emotion she had to pause for several moments to collect herself. She expressed anger at Rolfe for allegedly kicking Brooks as he lay stricken on the ground and for waiting two minutes before rendering first aid.
“My family has suffered so much,” she said. “My husband did not deserve to die. … My husband wasn’t perfect but he didn’t deserve to die.”
The hearing was held in Barwick’s courtroom, which was open to the public. But Rolfe, his lawyers, prosecutors and Miller attended the proceedings via Zoom and they could be seen on a large monitor in the courtroom.
Rolfe was charged five days after he fired two shots into Brooks’ back in a south Atlanta Wendy’s parking lot. Rolfe, a certified DUI officer, had been called to the scene by officer Devin Brosnan, who had responded to a 911 call because Brooks was asleep in his car in the drive-through lane.
After giving Brooks field sobriety and breath tests, Rolfe told Brooks to put his hands behind his back. At that point, Brooks tried to flee and he and the two officers fell to the pavement in a struggle.
Brooks took control of Brosnan’s Taser and ran across the parking lot with Rolfe chasing him. After Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at Rolfe and pulled the trigger, Rolfe fired three shots, with two fatally hitting Brooks in the back.
Rolfe’s lawyers, Noah Pines and Bill Thomas, had asked Barwick to impose a reasonable bond.
This is not a case against a gangbanger or someone who commits a drive-by shooting, Thomas told the judge. “A suspect escalated a situation and a death resulted.”
Pines said Rolfe has close ties to the community and is no risk of fleeing before his scheduled court dates.
“If he’s not entitled to a bond, I don’t know who is,” Pines said.
Assistant District Attorney Clint Rucker asked Barwick to deny bond. He argued that Rolfe did not show he has significant ties to the community and is a risk of flight.
He also said evidence against Rolfe is so overwhelming the former officer would be motivated to avoid a trial altogether.
“The videotape is clear,” Rucker said. When Rolfe fired shots at Brooks, Brooks was not pointing the Taser at Rolfe, the prosecutor said. He had turned away and was running away, Rucker said.
“I’m not excusing the actions of Mr. Brooks,” Rucker said. If Brooks were still alive, he could be facing his own proceeding, the prosecutor said, without elaborating.
But at the time of the shooting, Rucker said, Brooks “posed no danger to Officer Rolfe.”
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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): Rolfe